Sunday, October 17, 2010

Risk of Overweight For Youngsters Who Skimp On Milk

Youngsters who skimp on milk and other dairy food to avoid calories actually appear to substantially increase their risk of becoming overweight.

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In United States, too much weight is the most common medical condition of childhood. The problem has doubled over the past two decades. In 2004, about 15 percent were considered overweight or obese. The overall cause is both too much food and too little exercise.

Several reports in recent years have shown health benefits from dairy products, despite of their fat content. One research has nonetheless shown an unusually striking effect on weight as children go through their teens. Youngsters who skimp on milk and other dairy food to avoid calories actually appear to substantially increase their risk of becoming overweight.

2 servings of dairy food a day are linked to a substantial reduction in adolescent fatness. This was the finding revealed in 2004 by a research, based on the Framingham Children’s Study and conducted by Boston University of Medicine.

Childhood dairy intake has been falling for the last 20 years partly as youngsters have switched their preferences from milk to soft drinks. Youngsters consume less and less as they get older. Adolescent girls, in particular, are concerned about eating dairy because they think it will make them fat. But the research found that the opposite is true.

The researchers did frequent dietary surveys on 106 families with children and followed them an average of 12 years. They judged body fat by measuring the skin thickness on 4 parts of their bodies. They found that those who consumed less than 2 servings a day averaged about an extra inch of fat in a fold of skin, a surprisingly large amount. The children’s average skin fold thickness was 75 mm, while those who ate little dairy were 25 mm greater.

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Other findings from the research were:

- Youngsters who ate moderate amounts of fat, between 30 to 35 percent of total calories, weighed less than those who ate either more or less.

- Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables was also associated with lower weight.

- Contrary to one popular theory, the glycemic index of children’s diet, the amount of fast-burning carbohydrates, had no bearing on their eventual weight gain.

However, how dairy food might moderate weight gain is a mystery, at least for the time being. It is suspected that calcium or some other nutrient in milk might help influence the way the body stores energy in fat cells. Or perhaps dairy foods simply make children feel less hungry.

The research, including several other studies, also showed that children and adults who consume adequate amounts of dairy foods have lower blood pressure. Some researchers have even put adults on diets with increased dairy and found, to their surprise, that they also seem to lose weight.

Obesity and high blood pressure are known to be two risk factors for heart disease. Perhaps, you might want to persuade your children or even yourself drinking moderate amount of milk on a daily basis just to keep the heart healthy.

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